Actions may speak loud, but words speak too

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Actions may speak loud, but words speak too

Julia Thurau, a junior, works to stop the use of derogatory words.

Julia Thurau, a junior, works to stop the use of derogatory words.

Photo by Maria Thames

Julia Thurau, a junior, works to stop the use of derogatory words.

Photo by Maria Thames

Photo by Maria Thames

Julia Thurau, a junior, works to stop the use of derogatory words.

Maria Thames, Staff Writer

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Walking through the halls at LHS, you hear countless snippets of strangers’ conversations, some intriguing and some you may forget within seconds.

No matter what you’re hearing, you more than likely notice that students every day say something along the lines of  “that’s so gay” or “this is so retarded.” What we don’t realize is that we are using these words and phrases in a derogatory sense, hurting the feelings of many around us.

When you say something is gay, you are not only using the word incorrectly, but you are making fun of someone’s sexual orientation, making those who are gay feel as if they can’t be themselves. Other than meaning someone is attracted to their own gender, an older definition for the word gay is “lighthearted and carefree” according to Google Dictionary, but now, it is more commonly used as “foolish, stupid, or unimpressive.”

“The use of ‘gay’ is kind of hurtful because it’s not even that they don’t know, it’s that they don’t even try to know or try to understand. It hurts, you know? It’s someone using what you are as an insult,” expressed Anthony Milunas, a junior who is a part of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and is openly gay.

According to stopbullying.gov, LGBT teens are two to three more times likely to commit suicide than their peers. “As far as the ‘gay’ word goes, check the percent of suicide amongst gay people in our society and it’s difficult. It’s how you love, not who you love, and I just don’t have tolerance for people that continue to upset people; obviously this a big deal because everyone talks about it, so just stop,” voiced health teacher  Ms. Anne-Marie Hays.

Along with saying a situation or problem is “gay,” using the word “retarded” inappropriately is also quite common among high school students. At LHS, Best Buddies is all about stopping the use of the R-word. Every year in March, Best Buddies sponsors the campaign “Spread the word to end the word.”

“It’s really just to bring awareness again to people every year, but the only way it’s going to stop is if people start advocating for it and stand up. And when someone says it you don’t have to get all in their face, just be like ‘c’mon’ or just change the word for them. If they say ‘that’s retarded’ just say something,” said Ms. Hays, a Best Buddies advisor. “I feel that that’s the only way it’s going to stop. Teachers and people who believe in Best Buddies; we’re not always around, so it’s going to come from everybody else. If you’re like ‘oh that test was retarded’ you could say ‘that test didn’t make sense.’”

Saying something is retarded is completely inappropriate; you’re making fun of someone with a cognitive impairment, and they can’t control that; that’s just how they are.

“You know, people do have mental retardation, but they’re not using it in that context typically. They’re using it in a context to put someone down by calling them retarded, or saying something is retarded, they’re using that in a negative way,” said Best Buddies advisor and social worker Mrs. Lindsay Rescetar.

The only way these derogatory phrases are going to stop is if people start to tell their peers not to say them.

“Say something if you hear someone say it. Just tell them ‘hey, that’s not cool for you to say that’ because it’s just their habit, and people might stop it if you say something,” suggested junior Julia Thurau, a member of GSA.

Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. If someone says something and it bothers you, just politely suggest another word; you wouldn’t be telling them what to do, you’d just be suggesting an alternative word for them to use.

“Words are powerful, so use them wisely. …You can really impact a person either positively or negatively and you want to leave high school as a positive impact on people, and not have people remember you as the big jerk that always made fun of everyone and used derogatory words,” said Ms. Hays.


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